Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collen is leaving the WNBA to take over as coach of the Baylor women’s basketball team, the school announced on Monday.
She replaces Kim Mulkey, who left last week to become LSU’s coach. Current Atlanta assistant Mike Petersen takes over as interim head coach of Dream, which begins its season on May 14.
“Nicki is a passionate young women leader and elite basketball spirit and athletic educator,” said Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades. “It’s a great mission that shares our vision of Preparing Champions for Life by Commanding Excellence on and off the pitch. Nicki’s professional experience will be invaluable in developing players for the next level. Its addition confirms our commitment to the women’s basketball program at the highest level. ”
Collen became Dream’s head coach ahead of the 2018 season and went 38-52 during his three years at Atlanta. His best season was his first, when Dream finished 23-11 in 2018 and advanced to the WNBA semifinals.
Prior to her stint with the Dream, Collen was an assistant for two WNBA seasons with the Connecticut Sun.
Collen, who turns 46 on May 13, was a college assistant before joining the WNBA, working in Florida Gulf Coast, Arkansas, Louisville, Ball State and Colorado State. She worked with her husband, Tom Collen, in Arkansas, Louisville and Colorado State when he was head coach at these schools. She collegially played at Purdue and Marquette.
“I am delighted to be the head coach of Baylor University. I think it’s the best position in the country for women’s basketball, ”said Collen. “I am delighted to begin working with this extremely talented team and am grateful for the continued support from President (Linda) Livingstone and Mack Rhoades. The success of this program speaks for itself, and I will start working today to ensure that Baylor Women’s Basketball continues to be a program that excels at the highest level. “
Baylor mounts NaLyssa Smith, the 2021 Wade Trophy winner and No. 1 on ESPN.com’s list of its top 25 players for next season, tweeted in response to Collen’s hiring: “It’s time to get to work! “
it’s time to get down to business! 💫💫💫 https://t.co/5Ag0UmNYKh
– # 1 (@NaLyssaSmith) May 3, 2021
Collen is due to address the media on Tuesday.
The dream went 7-15 last year during the WNBA season in the Bradenton, Florida bubble. It was a difficult time for Atlanta, with players at odds with Dream co-owner and U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler on several issues, including her comments about the WNBA’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
WNBA players backed Loeffler’s opponent in the U.S. Senate race in Georgia, Raphael Warnock, which won the second round of the election on January 5, 2021.
In February, the Dream franchise was sold to a three-member group led by real estate investor Larry Gottesdiener, now majority owner of the team. Suzanne Abair, president of Northland Investment Corp., and former WNBA player Renee Montgomery are the other two investors.
On April 21, the Dream sacked chairman and general manager Chris Sienko, with the move coming just six days after the WNBA draft.
Dream center Kalani Brown, a Baylor alumnus who was a key part of Lady Bears’ 2019 title squad, reacted to Monday’s news on Twitter, “You’re going to blow me up… Please I’m just as shocked as you are.” “
You are going to blow me up… Please, I’m just as shocked as you 😩🤷🏾♀️
-. (@ kalanibrown21) May 3, 2021
Petersen joined the Dream’s staff shortly after Collen was hired at the end of 2017. He was previously a head coach and college assistant for many years for both women’s and men’s basketball. This included eight seasons at the helm of the Wake Forest women’s program. He was also the head coach of the Gonzaga, New Mexico State, TCU and North Texas women’s programs, and assistant to the Oregon women’s team and the Minnesota men’s team.
“We are grateful to Nicki Collen for her hard work as the Dream coach over the past three years. We wish him great success at Baylor University, ”the Dream said in a statement. “At this time, we are delighted to announce the promotion of Mike Petersen from Assistant Coach to Interim Head Coach, who will work closely with Assistant Coach Darius Taylor. They are invaluable members of the Atlanta Dream family, and we look forward to their leadership. of the team this season. “
Baylor won three NCAA titles under Mulkey (2005, 2012 and 2019) and a combined 23 Big 12 titles, between the regular season and the league tournament. Mulkey was 632-104 as Baylor’s head coach from 2000 to 2021.